Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Bjorn carved several slices of his favourite cheese, making a sandwich for himself, when a thought struck him about Geir's presence.

"This is the first time I've seen you in the kitchen, I think," Bjorn said semi-curious about Geir's habits at the checkpoint.
"That's right," Geir answered with a smile. "I'm always in the glass cage when you have dinner. But I'm not very fond of hot food... Prefer sandwiches, really."
"You do?"
"So you will not be joining us for dinner on this your day off?"
"No... I don't think so."
"You're missing out on some really nice food," Thomas commented. "Ante is a great cook."
"You think he'll be up in time to make dinner?" Bjorn asked.
"Oh yeah... He'll be up before noon."

Bjorn finished making his ham and cheese with his two colleagues watching him in silence.

"That looks good," Geir commented as Bjorn took a greedy bite out of his creation.
"It is!" Bjorn said with a mouthful of bread.
"You see, there's plenty of good sandwiches to be made too... I'd prefer that one you've just made to a hot meal any time."
"Well, I'm not sharing this one with you if that's what you're driving at."
"No, no, of course not... That's not my point."
"I know," Bjorn said with a smile.

There was again a spell of silence among the three colleagues, and Geir was just about to take the opportunity to leave the table when Bjorn suddenly tossed out a question regarding the subsidized cheese he was eating.

"So what do you think about the export subsidies?" Bjorn asked genuinely curious about his colleagues' opinion on the matter.
"On the cheese, you mean?" Geir asked.
"So Ante has been telling you about it too?"
"It's his favourite piece of trivia fact, I think," Thomas answered on Bjorn's behalf.
"Well, I think it makes a lot of sense," Geir answered. "It's good for the country."
"Really?" Thomas asked sceptically. "In what way?"
"It helps the farmers," Geir explained. "Keeps them in business."
"At everybody else's expense," Thomas added dryly.
"Well, the alternative would be a lot of abandoned farms all over the country... And that would clearly be a bad thing."
"But don't you think it a bit immoral that people are forced to pay for cheese that is sold to foreigners in far away places?"
"Not, considering the alternative."
"I'm sure the farmers can find other things to grow," Thomas said, getting a little irritated with Geir.
"So, now you're suddenly an expert on farming?" Geir asked, sensing a victory coming his way. "I think the farmers and the people in the Department of Agriculture know this better than either you or me, Thomas."
"But that does not make it right," Thomas said, leaning back in his chair and throwing up his arms.

"Well!" Bjorn said with some amazement. He had not expected something as trivial as cheese subsidies to touch such a nerve with Thomas. Then, deciding to put a positive spin on it all in order to defuse the tension he remarked that the subsidies, at the very least, were to the advantage to everyone at the checkpoint.

"We wouldn't be eating nearly as well if it wasn't for our proximity to Lundby," Bjorn said with a smile.
"You're right about that," Thomas said with a nod. "But I still think... Well... Never mind."

Thomas took a sip of his coffee, making an effort to calm down, and Geir sat again up in his chair, ready to leave.

"Well, I'll see you guys later then," Geir said, rising from the table. "I'll be in my room if you need me... you know... regarding the world and stuff."
"Okay," Bjorn answered. "We'll keep that in mind."

Then, as Geir was leaving the room, Bjorn tossed out another question.

"And what do you think about the taxi service down there?" he asked.
"I'd hardly call Igor's car a taxi," Geir said, turning and looking over at Thomas. "It's a rusty old Volvo, isn't it?"
"Well... It got us home last night," Thomas said with no intention to get into another argument.
"Did you know that they even have boat taxies going to Kirkenes, right from the harbour."
"What harbour?" Geir asked, suddenly looking concerned.
"Down by the fish factory... Next to it."
"Yep! Some kids from Kirkenes came in with their boats last night."
"But that's terrible!" Geir exclaimed, clearly upset by what he had just heard.
"Well... My God Bjorn... What planet are you from?"
"You're a boarder guard for heaven's sake."
"An unregulated taxi service to Kirkenes? Hello! That's a giant hole in our fence right there, and you didn't see it?"

Bjorn was suddenly speechless from embarrassment. Geir was right. He had learned of a giant hole in the border control, and the obvious problem with this had not occurred to him.

"Well, I sure hope Frank returns soon, because this needs to be reported back to Oslo immediately," Geir said, now being the one fuming with frustration.

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